Right now I am in Amsterdam, reconnecting with friends and family and looking forward to a new year in a new country – settling into Bulgaria has been easy and enjoyable so far. More about the plans for 2022 in a next post.
2021 was another challenging year in many aspects – China’s borders are still closed for instance. For me personally it was a very good year, enjoying a healthy and peaceful village life in Dali, travelling a bit and delivering a series of exciting Dutch Culture Nights where designers and audience got to connect and exchange ideas. Finally, I made a smooth transition to a whole new country. To finish off this special year I’d like to share the videos of the individual presentations of all the speakers at PechaKucha Night Dali I – All about Fashion, and PechaKucha Night Dali II – Architecture with intention. It’s a wrap!
All about fashion
On March 27, I organized the first PechaKucha Night Dali – All about fashion. Here is a snapshot video of the event, below you find the individual presentations of the seven fabulous speakers.
Designing with your hands, not with your head
制服损坏的军神 Military gods with damaged uniforms is the brand of Kunming native Liu Xi 刘希. He completed a bachelor’s degree in fashion design and after graduation worked as a custom fashion designer and artisan in Beijing. Now, he is back in his hometown Kunming, where he specializes in custom garments. His presentation explores the design based on the traditional tailoring process and looks at the possibilities and experiments of tailoring techniques used in avant-garde design throughout the world. In Liu Xi’s words: “I think that fashion design is a universal language – and it’s my second language.”
Good things come from the earth
RIO HILO is an independent designer based in Dali. Committed to transparency as well as sustainable products that have a small ecological footprint, RIO HILO aims to build a strong connection with anyone who loves and enjoys spending time with nature. Designer Rio was born in Jiangsu, Xuzhou, and studied Fashion Engineering in Shanghai Donghua University and Fashion design in Singapore Raffles Institute. Seeking for a more natural and better quality of life, Rio decided to move to Dali. The village life influences her in many ways, including her design.
The unisex style of fashion: Don’t let people label you by what you wear
Xu Yi is a Jiangsu province native who holds a master’s degree in art design from Rome Academy of Fine Arts and Beijing Institute of Fashion. She has studied with Ms. Keyu Li and the Italian artist and designer Veneranda Carrino. She has spent time in Rome, Tibet, Beijing, Shenzhen and other places In 2017, she settled down in Dali in 2017 where she works as an independent fashion, costume and accessories designer. She is founder and director of Xuyi Lab, an independent brand that combines tradition and lost craftsmanship while showcasing and guiding a new avant-garde lifestyle. Xuyi Lab aims to explore the possibilities for future relationships between garments and people.
The forgotten indigo journey
Chen Yiting 陈怡婷 or Coco Chen, a native of Guangzhou, graduated from Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in 2005. While doing her research on traditional tie-dye craft in Dali, she encountered a wealth of folk crafts. In 2006 she settled in the city. Since then, she has been engaged in metal, glass, indigo fabric creation and design. She runs her own art studio: the Need Blue Goods brand produces indigo products, Need Shop focuses on metalwork.
Managing and sharing the heritage and resources of Chinese traditional culture, and stimulating rural development by encouraging female employment.
Qu Baoxiang is the official intangible heritage guardian of Dali Yi minority embroidery craft. Qu Baoxiang has traveled to Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, India, Thailand and Myanmar to share the story of Dali crafts. He has taught Dali ethnic handicraft culture, clothing, embroidery, weaving, heritage and promotion of Chinese traditional culture at several prestigious universities across China.
What is a man? Stories of building identity
Mark van Beek (NL) is a fashion designer based in Shanghai. He has worked for Dirk Bikkembergs and Burberry, to name a few. In 2017 he moved to Shanghai, where he works as a consultant for ICICLE. Mark has extensive design and fabric development experience in the luxury sector, and high end ethically produced clothing and accessories for women and men.
Textiles as a thread through a product and spatial design practice
Henny van Nistelrooy (NL) leads Studio HVN – a design practice offering spatial to product design. The Dutch and Chinese owned studio merges contemporary design with Chinese culture. The studio’s design methodology is to research local culture and connect through contemporary design to modern life. Studio HVN was founded in 2009 and in 2012 moved to Beijing. Henny’s work has been exhibited at the Trienalle di Milano, Aram Gallery London, Design Berlin, Art Basel Miami, Beijing Design Week and Westbund Shanghai.
Architecture with intention
On 21 October the second PechaKucha Night Dali happened – this time with a line-up of great international and Chinese architects from all over China.
2050 Carbon Transformation
MVRDV Asia 建筑设计事务所 architect Tanja Dubbelaar (Netherlands 荷兰 / Shangai 上海) replaced Steven Smit who couldn’t join the event unfortunately. She has a Dutch-Chinese background and has study at TUDelft as well as Tsinghua University in Beijng. Her designs include the Shenzhen Terraces. A member of MVRDV’s Climate Expert Panel, she talked about sustainable building methodologies, illustrating how some materials will leave a lower carbon footprint than others.
Generation and RE-generation: sustainability from a pre- and post-industrial perspective in China.
Vincent de Graaf (Netherlands 荷兰/ Shanghai 上海) is co-founder and Design Principal of AIM Architecture 恺慕建筑设计事务所. Vincent graduated with a Master’s degree in Architecture and Urban Planning in Amsterdam and a Masters in Interior Design in Maastricht. With nearly 20 years of working experience stretching over multiple respected offices in urban planning, architecture and interior, and in both Europe and China, Vincent is both an exceptional architect engaging with traditional concepts and cultural ‘big picture’ ideals and new, inspired considerations of community. Award-winning projects include the Harmay flagship store (Beijing) and F.X. MAYR Wenzhou resort.
Dutch engineer and architect Tjerk Reijenga of BEAR – iD has 35 years of experience within the field of sustainable design. In 2011 he founded the Shanghai branch of BEAR-iD. “Sustainability is more than a technical solution – it is a holistic approach that combines landscaping, water-scaping, urban planning, architecture and interior design.” Some of the built projects in China are: the Yunnan Baiyao Headquarter and Factory campus in Kunming, the Yunnan Baiyao Toothpaste campus in Kunming, the China Mobile office in Baoshan (Yunnan), Trina Solar R&D in Minhang (Shanghai), Sanyou headquarters in Jiading (Shanghai), a school and dormitory in Tianshui (Gansu), the Huitong Hotel in Haikou, the Titus factory campus in Taizhou, the APT Medical Campus in Xiangxiang (Hunan), the Gentech R&D campus in Nanjing, the Genscript campus in Nanjing and the Botanical Gardens office in Shangrila.
The beauty in smallness and tactility
Alicia Lin 林璐 (New Zealand 新西兰 / Xizhou 喜洲) recently started her practice as an independent architect and runs her tiny studio in Xizhou, Dali. Before coming back to China, she studied Architecture. She gained her Master’s in Architecture in Norway (MArch) and Bachelor of Architecture inGermany and New Zealand. Her work experience is global too – she has worked with Studio Makkink and Bey (NL), Opa Form (NO), Beca Groups(NZ) and Kengo Kuma and Associates (JP). Both her previous research and current practice focus on the material of wood. Questioning the value of its physical presence and traditions, experimenting with old/new tectonics and craftsmanship, using wood to regrow memory of a place as urban/village acupunctures. This is pertinent especially here in China – one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. Currently she also teaches design at Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University in Suzhou. You can find her portfolio here or connect with her on Instagram or via email.
Living the Dali dream – (re)building a courtyard home
François Trézin (Wanqiao 万桥村 ) is a French artist, photographer, object collector and object maker from Provence, born in 1982. He studied graphic design and arts in Paris before becoming the assistant of a Japanese photographer in Japan. In 2007 he moved to Shanghai and spent 12 intensive years in the fashion and luxury industry shooting creative still life images for leading magazines, brands and advertising agencies in his own playful style, making props himself and styling them. Meanwhile he’s been also pursuing his artwork exhibiting mostly in France and China, questioning the overlap between art installation, object making and photography. He’s based in Dali, Yunnan, since 2019, applying his sculptural and handcraft skills renovating a yard in a small village near WanQiao.
The house that is good 好在的房子
Yang Xiong 杨雄 is a Tibetan architect from Lugu Lake. He gained a degree from the Kunming University of Science and Technology. His graduation thesis work concerned the Mosuo people of his home but he has also travelled to to Japan, Europe and Southeast Asia. Apart from being an architect he and his wife have also founded the Elephant Bookstore and event space in Kunming 大象书店 , an important cultural gathering place – meeting with other intellectuals and creatives there has influenced his design practice and philosophy. Examples of his work include the Mao Maoguo kindergarten in (Kunming), a repurposed bath house in M60 (Kunming)
“Everyone has his own way of expressing the world. For example, we will have a relationship with the world through writing. For me, I hope that people can perceive the possibilities of this world through houses and spaces.”
Too much Architecture can kill you!
Gábor Szentpétery (Prague/ Dali) of Studio GÁSE 工作室. Co-founder of the SkyCity Challenge (biannual international design competition) and author of PEOPLEIMEET. After studies at the UPV in Valencia (Spain) & KSU in Manhattan (US) Gabor finished his masters at CTU in Prague, where he established his own design studio called K-56 (later renamed to GÁSE ) already back in 2002 with Jakub Geltner. Since then Gabor participated in various design projects within 3 different continents but after a 3-year world travel break he moved to China in 2012 where he actively creates & builds until today. His award-winning projects include the Nike Spiral for Prague’s Designblok 07, the nursing home of Ca ñete (Spain) and Greenland Rong Bay office in Changsha.
Happy new year!
I wish you all a wonderful year ahead – it might be another challenging one but I’m more than ready for it. I will continue to shape my life in such a way that I can keep on building and strengthening bridges across cultures: betweeen China, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and the rest of Europe.
Apart from work I will study in the coming year. Art and culture are universal languages but I will also continue to study Chinese. My main focus in studies however will be on (Chinese) tea. I’m very excited as this universe continues to enfold – the biggest gift that China has given me.